The Outlook for Hospitality, Part 4: Technology Vendors Discuss Their Plans for the Future
By Amy|2020-12-16T15:05:54-05:00December 16th, 2020|
Fran Worrall | December 16, 2020
By Fran Worrall
Two weeks ago, in Part 3 of our series on the outlook for hospitality, we asked some of the industry’s leading technology vendors to discuss the solutions that are helping the industry recover.
Not surprisingly, many companies have experienced an overwhelming demand for contactless solutions—from mobile food and beverage ordering to keyless entry systems. Other companies have seen rapid adoption of new business intelligence and CRM technology. Without exception, every vendor we interviewed has met the challenges surrounding the pandemic head-on, with many of them releasing new and improved solutions that offer low-touch or no-touch delivery as well as streamlined service and a positive guest experience. In doing so, these companies not only are helping the industry recover but also are positioning themselves for long-term growth.
This week, in Part 4 of our series, we asked hospitality vendors a final question: Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, does your company have any plans to branch out to other industries? If so, which ones? Following are their responses:
Don DeMarinis, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing-Americas, Agilysys: Our goal is to be the dominant technology vendor in the hospitality space; and, to that end, we have no interest in diverting our attention in other directions. Over the past few years, we’ve worked hard to completely modernize our existing solutions and to develop more than a dozen new ones, specifically for hotels and resorts. Today, we have the most comprehensive suite of modern, cloud-native or on-premises, integrated hospitality solutions available from any technology vendor in hospitality. These solutions are anchored by three distinct PMS offerings – Agilysys Stay, Agilysys LMS and a soon-to-be- released fully modernized version of Visual One. Also, we can’t ignore our recently updated InfoGenesis POS that now runs on Windows, Android and iOS. We have a compelling story to tell that uniquely benefits hotel operators today and going forward. From online booking through check-out, Agilysys technology helps hotel operators manage the guest experience and drive revenue to the bottom line. Perhaps there will come a time for us to venture into new vertical segments, but that time is not now. We’re ready to help this industry rebound in a big way!
Nicolas Aznar, President-Americas, ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions: While the hospitality industry has remained and will always remain a cornerstone market focus for ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions, we have continued to branch out into vertical markets that can benefit from our expertise in security technology, such as student housing, marine, senior living, and multi-housing. And we will continue to identify new markets that can achieve greater safety, efficiency and convenience using our company’s range of advanced security access solutions.
Steve Woodward, President, Centrada Solutions: In recent weeks, we’ve begun pursuing leads in a few new verticals, including multi-family housing and assisted living, which are very similar to hospitality.
Mike Schmitt, Chief Executive Officer, Clairvoyix: After mid-March, we faced a time of little to no activity. Our hotel clients had either closed temporarily or weren’t actively direct marketing. At the same time, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) was experiencing an unprecedented number of new unemployment claims, and their systems were overwhelmed. I was asked to join a state-sponsored ‘Strike Force’ charged with reducing the unemployment claims backlog. We were able to leverage our database marketing technology, which was developed for the hospitality industry, to help DETR analyze hundreds of thousands of unemployment claims to determine whether claimants were deserving of payments or if they required further validation. This work has been so successful that we’re now implementing a business model that will help state governments deal with large volumes of benefits claims, both to identify legitimate claims and to help eliminate fraudulent ones. Clairvoyix has even filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office for fraud prevention through a unique benefits claim registration process.
Mark Holzberg, Chief Executive Officer, Cloud5 Communications: We recognize that hospitality will be in a state of flat growth or possibly retraction for a year or more, but we’re committed to supporting our industry colleagues while continuing to broaden our base and strengthen the company. Technology corporations have been growing at unexpected rates through the pandemic, but those of us who serve hospitality exclusively are feeling the pain and anxiety of the uncertainty that lies ahead. Cloud5 has been looking to expand its services so that adjacent industries can benefit from our expertise. The Multiple Dwelling Units (MDU) market is the most obvious adjacency to hospitality, encompassing senior living, student housing, and multifamily apartments and condominiums. Since October 2019, Cloud5 has been owned by Oaktree Capital Management, which in turn is majority owned by Brookfield Asset Management. The latter’s Brookfield Property Partners operates and develops one of the nation’s largest portfolios of office, multifamily, student housing, retail, and industrial assets, in addition to owning hotels, many of which we serviced before Oaktree acquired Cloud5. We’re working to understand the unique requirements of the MDU market and to refine and expand our solutions to serve the needs of residents. Our Contact Center business unit, which primarily has been a third-party reservations and guest relations operation for the hotel industry, has expanded beyond hospitality. In fact, we’re taking calls on behalf of a state government to process unemployment claims related to the COVID-19 economic downturn. This is additional revenue to Cloud5, but it also allows us to help our fellow citizens during this difficult time, which is important to us. We’re also introducing our Contact Center services to the MDU market to address the daily tech support needs of residents and staff. We’re taking the expertise we’ve developed from more than 20 years in hospitality and tweaking it to fit the needs of businesses with similar goals.
Nick Pledge, Chief Operating Office, Crave Interactive: Although our strength is in delivering exceptional digital guest experiences across the hospitality industry, our AppLess™ technology has benefits for wider business usage, particularly considering the touchless future we’re facing. From cocktail bars and cafes to pharmacies and hospitals, our modular solution enables businesses to offer great service at a distance.
Dr. Michael Toedt, Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, dailypoint: We have no plans to branch out; our focus is the hotel industry. Over the last 15 years we’ve published several books and hundreds of articles, so we can rightly claim that we’re one of the top specialists in our complex industry. Our strategy is simple: to provide more and more value to our hospitality customers and help them to become digital leaders.
Mike Chuma, Vice President of Marketing, Engagement & Enablement, IDeaS: At this time, IDeaS maintains a steadfast dedication to the hotel industry. Our focus is on expanding the depth and breadth of our product line and enhancing the quality of our services so that our entire hotel portfolio can more effectively optimize revenue and profitability.
Jason Floyd, General Manager, Infor Hospitality: Infor has always served a variety of industries and verticals, so the pandemic hasn’t necessarily been an impetus for us to branch out. However, it has certainly changed the speed and trajectory of how our products are evolving to serve customers as they redefine their needs. This year has also changed how the vendor community conducts the business of doing business, which will inevitably bring new product and service opportunities to the post-pandemic market. Opportunities can arise from adversity: Make hay while the sun shines, but make umbrellas, rain slickers, and galoshes when the weather turns inhospitable.
Mark Loyd, President, Jonas Chorum: Our parent company, Jonas Software, is well diversified and well-funded, giving our customers assurance that we won’t have financial issues. This allows us to stay focused on hospitality, which is where our passion lies.
Scott Watson, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer and Partner, M3: Founded more than two decades ago specifically for the hotel industry by hotel veterans, M3 is fully and exclusively invested in the hospitality industry with no plans to expand to other sectors. Thanks to the strength and commitment of our customers, the dedication of our employees, and the vision of our executive team, M3 remains financially strong and has achieved month-over-month growth for 262 consecutive months without outside investments. This self-made, self-funded approach gives us the unique ability to chart our own path, which is—and always will be—focused on the success of the hospitality industry across North America and beyond.
Warren Dehan, President, Maestro: We don’t believe this is the time to lose focus on ensuring the success of our clients by diverting our attention elsewhere. On the contrary, we’re actively focused on additional features in Maestro PMS that can help clients weather the pandemic. We are 100 percent committed to the hospitality industry and will continue to work with clients to help them navigate their technology needs as the current climate dictates.
Niklas Moeller, Vice President, MODIO Guestroom Acoustic Control: After months of working from home, many people are looking for ways to shake up their routine and restore a work/life balance. MODIO is a strong differentiating amenity for properties that want to promote their guest rooms as quiet, private spaces to work for the day. To assist hoteliers with these initiatives and ensure they’re able to offer spaces that support focus, we’ve recently released a portable model that can be loaned from the front desk; or, better, placed in any work-from-hotel room before guests arrive. While it’s best to have MODIO permanently installed in each guest room—preventing noise complaints from the outset—this version meets the particular needs of the moment and also provides hoteliers with an opportunity to try our sound masking technology.
André Lalande, Vice President of Sales, Onity: We have long provided our electronic locking solutions to higher education and military and government installations. And, more recently, we’ve offered these systems to senior living and off-campus housing properties. Each of these markets, much like hospitality, can benefit from Onity’s DirectKey mobile access technology.
James Prestileo, Director of Sales and Marketing, Phonesuite Direct: We don’t plan to branch out to other industries. We were literally born into the hospitality industry; in fact, our founder still owns the boutique hotel in Colorado’s ski country that once belonged to his parents. We devote 100 percent of our time to PBX/communication systems in the hospitality space. This allows us to offer the best product for the industry as well as money-saving services like SIP Trunking.
Frank Pitsikalis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ResortSuite: We’re committed to the hospitality industry and to supporting hotels, resorts, spas, and clubs as they adapt to the new normal. The properties that make the investment in technology to streamline the guest experience will be the leaders of the next wave of hospitality.
Michael Cline, Vice President of Hospitality Sales, SALTO Systems: SALTO excels in a number of verticals beyond hospitality, including education, multi-family housing, co-living and co-working, transportation and residential. We will continue to develop new solutions based on the needs of those seeking the absolute best in access control management and solutions.
Daniel Montellano, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Business Development, Shift4 Payments: We already cater to virtually every market segment, with more than 350 POS/PMS integrations in major industries like hospitality, retail and e-commerce as well as specialty industries like auto rental, gyms, golf, spa, and many more. We’ll continue to deliver—and enhance with new features—our end-to-end, integrated payment processing ecosystem.
Kevin King, Chief Operating Officer, Shiji Group: We’re not changing our course; as a company, hospitality has always been the foundation of what we do, and we intend to invest even more in this industry because we know it will bounce back. As we mentioned at the outset of this series, the more the world evolves the more important it is for people to travel and meet. That’s what brings our cultures closer. Hotels are a core part of the travel experience, and we strongly believe they will recover and experience growth in the years ahead.
Kara Heermans, Vice President of Product Management and User Experience, SONIFI: While we remain committed to enhancing our technology and services for our core industries—hospitality, healthcare and commercial support—we’ve also identified how our successes in these verticals might translate to exceptional service and support in senior living environments. We know technology will become increasingly important both to residents and their families, and we’re exploring new partnerships that will enable us to reach this increasingly tech-savvy demographic.
Robert Selwah, President, Springer-Miller Systems: We do not plan to branch out to other industries. Our commitment to hospitality remains strong.
John M. Clark, Vice President, SynergyMMS: We’ve always planned to diversify into other markets, but we’re dedicated to hospitality. Having worked in four different industries, I can assure you that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ product, nor is there a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to marketing, on-boarding and support. We still plan to branch out to other industries, but we plan to divisionalize in order to provide the unique experience each segment needs.
Daniel Johnson, Partner and Co-Founder, VENZA: We’re dedicated to the hospitality industry and are committed to building it back up, better than ever before.
Mark Lewis-Brown, President & Chief Executive Officer, Vertical Booking USA: We’re a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zucchetti Corp., based in Italy, and plans are underway to expand all Zucchetti companies into North America. These include ERP, HR Solutions and POS.
As we close our series on the future of hospitality, several points should be noted. Overwhelmingly, vendors are optimistic. Despite the seriousness of the pandemic and its devastating impact on hotels around the world, most companies agree that the industry is resilient and will recover. Not surprisingly, many believe that technology will play a key role in the process.
What’s more, hospitality vendors have risen to meet the challenges surrounding the pandemic, responding in a variety of creative ways—from offering clients free or discounted services to speeding the development of solutions that provide safe alternatives for guests. As a result, the vendor community is playing a critical role in helping the industry get back on its feet.
Yet, perhaps most importantly, every vendor we interviewed remains committed to the recovery of the hospitality industry. Now, as a COVID-19 vaccine arrives and the world collectively sees a light at the end of a very long tunnel, we at Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online acknowledge the resourcefulness and resilience of our industry and look forward to a happier—and healthier—new year.
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